Vettori aims to finish season on a high
Daniel Vettori, the New Zealand captain, is determined to win the second Twenty20 international against Sri Lanka in Lauderhill so that his team can "finish a long season on a high note". Vettori said there was a "a little bit of that exhibition feel" in the lead up to the Florida Twenty20s but it disappeared once the games got underway, with both New Zealand and Sri Lanka wanting to pick up momentum after the ICC World Twenty20.
New Zealand go into the second game protecting a 1-0 lead, after winning a low-scoring contest on Saturday. They struggled to make 120 on a slow pitch at the Central Broward Regional Park Stadium but their bowlers ensured victory by restricting Sri Lanka to 92.
Vettori, however, didn't feel the conditions favoured any team in particular. "Most teams round the world are used to these conditions and are adept at them," he said. "I don't think teams have a stranglehold over other teams just because of conditions these days. We've played enough in this, and so have they obviously. We understand what we need to do and that's why we won today."
New Zealand were 71 for 4 in the 13th over when Vettori began his innings and he said he knew straightaway they had to get to 120. "We weren't sure if it was enough but we knew it'd be competitive. We kept losing wickets so it was difficult, and it was hard to hit from one end because of the wind and the size of the boundaries."
Sri Lanka's chase started poorly, with Mahela Jayawardene falling to the second ball, and then Scott Styris picked up three key middle-order wickets with his medium-pace to swing the match New Zealand's way. "I think the key was to make things a little uncertain for them - back of a length bowling, you weren't too sure if it was going to stay low or bounce as it normally should," Styris said. "So to try and put some uncertainty into the batsman's minds, and their medium pacers did a good job as well, but we had the runs on the board."
Kumar Sangakkara, the Sri Lankan captain, said his team would have to make sure they had a different batting plan in the second game. "It was not the tallest of scores," he said. "We should have been smarter in the way we batted. We had a good idea of what the pitch was going to do when we were bowling, we knew it was going to be slow and low and big shots were going to be difficult. We should have used our touch a lot more - placement and chip shots."
However, Sangakkara said there would be no major changes to Sri Lanka's line-up and was non-committal on whether Sanath Jayasuriya, whose place in the XI is under increasing scrutiny, would play.
Both captains had praise for the crowd that turned up to watch the first ever international match in the USA. "There were a lot of Sri Lankan fans here so it had that subcontinent feel," Vettori said. "It was a crowd that was entertained, I thought. While it wasn't as high-scoring as people would have wanted I think it was a pretty thrilling game."
Sangakkara said the crowd was great and hoped they'd return on Sunday. "Sri Lankans have a lot of fun when they watch cricket and today was no different. Hopefully they'll come back tomorrow and we'll give them a better performance."